Protesters denounce ‘substandard’ carpenter wages

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — About two dozen people protested Tuesday outside the Penobscot Building downtown against what they called substandard wages for carpenters employed by a development company.

“We are having a peaceful demonstration because of Triple Properties Detroit LLC, which is not paying area standard wages,” said Dave Pehrson, member of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters union. “It would be somewhere up around $30 an hour, plus benefits.”

Pehrson said he does not know how much carpenters earn with Triple Properties. Neither the company nor the employees responded to his wage survey, he said.

“I don’t believe they’re making that kind of money,” he said of the $30 per hour goal. “They’re cheating their workers out of pay.”

Triple Properties owns the Penobscot building as well as the Silverdome, which is for sale for $30 million.

Alex Loewy, an account manager for Triple Properties, said Tuesday afternoon that the company uses a contractor, which he declined to name.

“I don’t know what he pays subcontractors,” Loewy said. He said he does not expect Triple Properties to look into the pay matter.

The protesters gathered around 9 a.m. Tuesday and walked the sidewalk in front of the Penobscot building on Griswold near Fort Street.

They chanted slogans like “No justice, no peace” and “Same work, same pay.”

Pehrson said the group planned to protest through Tuesday afternoon.

Carpenters with Triple Properties work as independent contractors who fill out 10-99 forms to submit taxes to the IRS, Pehrson said.

“They have to pay their own taxes (and have) no health insurance,” he said.

Employees of Triple Properties were not present at Tuesday’s protest, Pehrson said.

“This is not a union, non-union issue,” he said. “This is about people making the wages that they deserve.”

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Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.